What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Hundreds of volunteers needed to get balloon festival off the ground

Posted March 14
Updated March 15

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— When hot air balloons, live music and food and craft vendors crowd Fuquay-Varina's Fleming Loop Recreational Park on Memorial Day weekend, plenty of work will be required to make sure the second annual WRAL Freedom Balloonfest lifts off without a hitch.

Organizers launched a drive Monday to attract the hundreds of volunteers the event will need. Fidelity Bank, a festival sponsor, hosted a walk-in registration.

"It takes about 300 volunteers a day to help with a festival like this," said Mary Willis, Fidelity president and CEO. "We have rallied our employees in the bank for support, and we also want the community's support."

Sign up to volunteer for WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest, May 27-30

The small army of helpers will work from early morning to late evening to direct traffic, answer questions and keep the park clean for visitors.

The 2016 edition of the WRAL Freedom Balloonfest promises to be better – with easier traffic flow and parking shuttles and trams – and bigger. Organizers have added 19 hours of planned live music over the course of the three-day event and about 40 food vendors. There will also be rides and shopping.

Edna Morales, who owns a restaurant in downtown Fuquay-Varina, is expecting visitors to drift in from the park and learn what her little town is about.

"I'm very excited. The staff is excited. We plan to have a special menu just for that time," she said.

"It certainly puts Fuquay-Varina on the map with a major festival," said Mayor John Byrne. "It will be one of the best things that ever happened, as far as economic development is concerned, to our community."

Brian Hoyle, the lead festival organizer, said he expects 80,000 people will attend over the three days of the holiday weekend.

The move from eastern Wake County to Fuquay-Varina also puts the festival closer Fort Bragg, which is a bonus since it is designed to honor military families.

"The festival is really about remembering those who paid the ultimate price in service above self to our country," Hoyle said. "It’s not just about the man or woman who wears the uniform but the family who supports them."

8 Comments

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  • Charles Edwards Mar 15, 2016
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    View quoted thread


    The article states Memorial Day weekend.

  • Kim Khare Mar 15, 2016
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    The roads I am referring to are Rte. 401, Rte. 42, Lake Wheeler, 1010, 55. I am sure there are more, but those roads I see alot of litter.

  • Tracy Watson Mar 15, 2016
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    I live in Fuquay and I am not looking forward to this event. It will bring a lot of people to the town so hoping the small businesses will benefit if anything.

  • Tracy Watson Mar 15, 2016
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    View quoted thread



    What roads are you referring to?

  • Gidget Carpenter Mar 15, 2016
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    How are bands/musicians being considered for this festival? I would like more information to submit a band to perform.

  • Kim Khare Mar 15, 2016
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    I sure hope they plan to clean up the roads leading to Fuquay before all the visitors arrive. They are filthy.

  • Kathe Kaufman Mar 15, 2016
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    So, a date for the festival in the article would be helpful in determining if I'm available to volunteer. Also, the link to volunteer doesn't work.

  • Charles Edwards Mar 15, 2016
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    I hope they do a better job of responding to volunteers than in the past. Last year I signed up early to offer my assistance. Never heard a word from anyone. Unfortunately, there was no contact info given on the event web site - no email, no phone, so I could not do any follow-up. Not very well organized.